Skenes Creek Road

3rd category climbLength: 9.2km
Average gradient: 5.1%
Elevation gain: 489m

View from the Skenes Creek Road climb.

Introduction

Climbing from the gorgeous Great Ocean Road into the Great Otway National Park, the ascent of Skenes Creek Road is unforgettably picturesque. With terrific ocean and valley views possible throughout, this gentle climb should make it to every Victorian cyclist’s ‘must climb’ list. Skenes Creek Road is featured in Amy’s Gran Fondo, a mass-participation ride that runs in September.

The start

The ascent of Skenes Creek Road begins at the corner of Skenes Creek Road (C119) and the Great Ocean Road (B100), 5km north east of Apollo Bay.

Start of the Skenes Creek Road climb.

The finish

The Skenes Creek Road climb ends at a 45km/h recommended speed sign as the road begins to flatten out, just before Kincaid Road.

End of the Skenes Creek Road climb.

At a glance

  • A consistent climb with great coastal views that also passes through farmland and forest.
  • There’s a 200m-long false-flat at the 3.1km mark.
  • The best views start at about 5.1km on the left-hand side of the road.
  • There’s another flatter section from 6.1km that lasts for most of a kilometre.
  • There’s one final false-flat at 8km, this one lasting for nearly a kilometre as well.

Climb details

The climbing begins about 50m after the turn-off, with the road taking on a gradient of around 5%. 300m into the climb, the road bends around to the right with the gradient increasing slightly in the process. At the 700m mark, with farmland now visible on the left, the road takes long, sweeping left-hand bend.

1.3km from the start of the climb the road bends around into a tight left-hand hairpin bend, flattening out momentarily in the process before returning to a gradient of around 6%. 400m later the road bends sharply around to the right before terrific views of Apollo Bay are possible at Evans Lookout, 1.9km after starting the climb.

With the gradient remaining at a manageable 5%, a sweeping right-hand bend turns you away from the coast. By the 2.4km mark the road has straightened out and is surrounded by beautiful native gums. Maintaining a gradient of around 5% the road winds up through the bush before reaching a 200m false-flat at the 3.1km mark.

Leaving the false-flat behind, the gradient sits at a modest 3-4% before a sharp right-hand bend at the 3.6km provides a brief section of around 6%. After winding gently for several hundred metres, you will pass through a very sharp left-hand hairpin 4.2km from the start.

At the 5.1km mark, great views are possible on the right-hand side with the road passing through hilly farmland. As the road bends around to the right at the 5.5km mark, the left-hand side of the road drops away into an impressive valley with amazing views possible all the way around to Apollo Bay. As the amazing views continue, the road’s gradient hovers at around 5% making it easy to sit up and enjoy the impressive surrounds.

After bending to the left at the 6.1km mark, the road flattens out quite noticeably and it’s not until a kilometre or so later that a gradient of 4-5% returns. At the 7.4km mark the road winds its way into the Great Otway National Park, trading impressive valley views for a thick covering of ferns and native gums. At the 8km mark the road flattens out once again, maintaining a false-flat for the best part of one windy kilometre.

At the 8.8km mark the road opens out a little and a gradient of around 4% kicks in. After a sharp right-hand bend 9km from the start of the climb the road climbs gently for another 500m before flattening out to the 45km/h recommended speed sign and the top of the climb.

Profile

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Location

Skenes Creek Road begins around 5km north east of Apollo Bay, a lovely seaside town 200km south west of Melbourne. Apollo Bay is one of several towns that litter the stunning Great Ocean Road – one of Victoria’s tourism hotspots and a wonderful destination for a weekend away or extended holiday.

The Skenes Creek Road climb can certainly be attempted from Apollo Bay but a warm-up of 5km is less than ideal. A better option might be to ride from the town of Lorne, around 40km north east of Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road.

While the Great Ocean Road makes for terrific cycling territory, be aware that for most of its considerable length, there is only one lane in each direction. This fact, combined with the road’s many twists, turns and blind corners, can make riding along the Great Ocean Road quite dangerous.

Times

If you are the sort of cyclist that enjoys riding against the clock then Cycle2Max is the place for you. Head over there to register your time. A Strava segment for this climb can be found here.

Flyover

19 Comments

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  1. Brody / Jul 9 2014

    I’m having a crack at this tomorrow, starting at Apollo Bay if anyone is keen to join?

  2. Dan / Jun 3 2014

    You could consider getting a whatever in the cassette
    with 30 teeth, it is not actually cheating,
    but your friends will be really impressed,
    as long as you don’t tell them.

  3. David / Jan 28 2014

    Australia Day weekend. Went to climb Skenes Ck road on Saturday morning, but had 2 punctures! 200 metres up…..sheepishly called my wife to pick me up. Fixed up, went more prepared on Sunday morning and was rewarded with the most beautiful climb. I love how the flora changes from eucalyps to rainforest ferns and experiencing the dappled sunlight through the canopy above. Minimal car traffic, and those that came past were very considerate. Unfortunately didn’t have time to do full loop via Otway fly (back to apollo bay), but plan to do that next time in that part of the world.

  4. Daniel / Nov 14 2013

    To Forrest and return from Skene’s Creek is a great trip, almost as much climbing on the return but a bit faster, 60 km round trip which is worthwhile, and keeps you off the Great Ocean Ride. Les you could consider having a second cheaper bike with a different gear set up ie a ‘climbing’ bike with compact whatever it is. Don’t know much about lactic acid, but I prefer to start climbs cold, have had no problems, always start Mt Macedon at Trading Post, makes it easier to have post ride lunch.

  5. Les / Apr 4 2013

    Great reading guys ,Im going to attempt Skenes Creek a 2nd time in September, but I have DI2 gears and someone said you cant add a compact crank to this system, I may struggle with my 92 kg weight. Anyone know of anyway of making it easier apart from heaps of training and losing a bit of kg. Having said that i have completed once but it killed me. cheers

    • Tony Adey / Aug 21 2013

      I have Ultegra Di2 on my Cervelo R3 plus a 12/28 cassette love it and I often ride slopes of 12% – 20% and find it generally easy despite being 62 years plus. Go for compacts

    • Dibbo / Jun 2 2014

      Yes you can have compact with Di2.
      I have a compact on my Scott Foil 15, try a different bike shop who can fit one for you.

      Invaluable for me as all my training is hills :(

  6. Dylan Nicholson / Apr 2 2013

    Good climb, but I actually think the road from Lorne to Benwerrin (on the way to Deans Marsh) is more interesting – and the descent is fantastic. The road between Forrest-Apollo Bay Rd (near Tanybryn) in Beech Forest is also a nice descent and climb, fantastic scenery. From Wongara up to Mt Sabine also looks like a great climb (~500m, pretty much non-stop climbing) but haven’t tried it.

  7. Daniel / Jan 8 2013

    Just rode from Apollo Bay up Skenes Creek Rd and went along the road to the Otway Fly. It is paved the whole way. Fantastic ride through the national park. We continued on to Lavers Hill and then back around to Apollo Bay. 100km exactly. All round great ride.

  8. Andrew / Jan 5 2013

    I’m told by locals that the road to the Otway Fly from Skenes Creek Rd isn’t paved the whole way, so I didn’t try it. But if you’re looking for a longer ride after the climb just keep on going to Forrest – 32 K each way from the start of the climb. It’s undulating to Forrest and the return trip has a series of short climbs, the longest of which is just under 2 k’s (which is why it took me 12 minutes less than the way out – 1.18 compared to 1.30) but it does have the hardest section of the whole climb,about 250 metres at 12-13% followed by a short burst at 15%.

  9. David / Oct 24 2012

    Matt

    Heading down to Apollo Bay for Mel Cup weekend and looking for rides. Have you ridden along Beech Forest-sabine road to Otway fly as an extension of the skenes creek road ride?

    • Matt / Oct 24 2012

      I haven’t! Someone else on here might have though?

      Anyone?

    • Nathan / Apr 4 2013

      Hi Matt, I road up Skene’s creek and along Turton’s Rd to Beech forest-Sabine rd a few weeks ago. It is now paved all the way through and it was absolutely fantastic. Beautiful views and temperate rainforest. Word is that it is best done out of (tourist) season since it is single lane and there are many sharp blind corners. On a weekend during summer there will be a lot of “scenic route” traffic. On a rainy day in March though we only saw a single car :-)

      • Jon Thornton / Sep 12 2013

        +1 for Turton’s Road. It is one of the most beautiful roads in the state.

  10. Nick / Sep 21 2011

    No worries , thanks for that.
    Next time i’m in Australia i’ll put my time on both versions :-) … Australia is an expensive place for a European these days though !

  11. Nick / Sep 20 2011

    Hi Matt , great site . Any particular reason you created a duplicate climb to the original ‘Tanybryn’ climb on C2M . It’s always a bit of shame to have a duplicate as the rankings for the climb get spread between the two.
    cheers – Nick.

    • Matt / Sep 20 2011

      Hi Nick, thanks for your comment. You raise a good point about the duplicate entry. When I added the climb to Cycle2Max I had a good look for the climb, searching for ‘Skenes Creek’, ‘Skenes Creek Road’ etc. but couldn’t find it, etc. So, it definitely wasn’t a deliberate attempt to splinter the community — I genuinely thought there wasn’t one there. I’ll jump in and change over the link to the Tanybryn climb and see if I can get folks to add their times to the Tanybryn climb.

      So, thanks for bringing it to my attention, and apologies for the inconvenience.

      Matt

  12. Luce Chandon / Dec 16 2010

    Great article and inspiration for my own ride up Skenes Creek Road which I completed on December 4, 2010.

    Truly awesome ride for anyone else wanting to give it a try.

    I make mention of this article on my own blog at:

    http://www.bike-books.com/top-tips-for-cyclists/training-top-tips-for-cyclists/how-to-turn-your-cycling-goals-into-cycling-habits/

    Thanks again.

    Cheers…Luce

    • Matt / Dec 17 2010

      Thanks for your kind words Luce. :) I’m glad you got some use and inspiration out of the site. Thanks for the link too!!! :)

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